Tuesday, April 28, 2020

White House Re-establishes Council on Native American Affairs

By Native News Online Staff - April 28, 2020 at 11:43AM

WASHINGTON – A day after it lost a court battle over COVID-19 relief funding for Native American tribes, the Trump Administration announced an executive order to re-establish the White House Council on Native American Affairs 

In a news release, the White House said Executive Order 13647 re-establishes the Native American Affairs council to continue inter-agency coordination of the Indian Country COVID-19 Response Team assembled by the White House in early March.

The announcement this morning comes after a federal judge on Monday blocked the Trump Administration from distributing tribal relief funds to privately held Alaska Native Corporations. The lawsuit that led to the ruling was filed, in part, because of a disconnect between tribes and the Department of Treasury as to what qualifies as a tribal government.  

The newly re-established council will also help drive Administration policy priorities supporting Indian Country, including economic development and rural prosperity, energy development, infrastructure, public health, cultural resources, public safety, veterans’ affairs and education & workforce development, according to a White House news release. 

Tyler Fish, whose name was linked to a leaked document with sensitive tribal data in a report by Indianz.com, will serve as executive director of the council.  Fish has served as the Tribal Liaison in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs since July 2019.  

The council will help the Administration be even more responsive to Indian Country, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney said in a statement. 

“We are looking forward to partnering with Tyler, whose proven leadership and legacy of bridge building throughout the Federal government is meaningful and beneficial for all of us in the Administration, Indian Country and Alaska Native communities,” Sweeney said. 

“Tyler has provided great leadership in driving collaboration with tribal leaders across the Nation and helped advance important missions including COVID-19 coordination and action on the issue of Missing and Murdered Native Americans,” said Doug Hoelscher, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director, White House Intergovernmental Affairs. 

The Council is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, and includes major executive agencies and senior White House leadership. The Council was established to provide improved coordination of Federal programs and the use of resources available to Tribal communities.

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